I’ve read some very positive interpretations of this phrase, related to Alice’s curious nature and her courage in chasing after the rabbit as he disappeared down the hole. Some literary critics like to see it as a metaphor for determination or ambition and Alice is clearly fearless in pursuing her goal and need for adventure.
Of course, there is also the obligatory drugs reference. Any work of fiction that creates a fantastical land of mystery and intrigue is, sooner or later, going to be compared to the effects of a hallucinogenic drug. What Alice experiences down the rabbit hole is indeed surreal and could easily be compared to a drug induced ‘trip’, but the scholar in me refuses to believe that Lewis Carroll was writing about something so mundanely obvious.
Whatever Carroll meant, it is fair to say that the phrase has taken on meanings of it’s own that are all contextual. Making it’s way into popular culture has contributed to it’s evolution and confirmed the rabbit hole as a place of wonder, excitement and possibly, answers,
‘You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes’ – Morpheus, The Matrix
I should have taken the blue pill. I’m pretty sure life would have been much simpler then. But I am more like Alice than I should admit. Impetuous, inquisitive, easily bored and a constant thrill seeker. I’m happy to defy the rules and common sense if I am to discover something exquisite and inspiring. By doing this, by willingly jumping down that rabbit hole I am subjecting myself to an alien place, a different reality that brings with it the risk of losing touch with what is familiar, what is safe. And I don’t mind that. I’m not afraid of that. What I usually fail to realise, as Alice did, is that satisfying your curiosity can produce bizarre experiences that distort your philosophies and emotional responses, so much so that not only does the rabbit hole world confuse you, but the real one too. Sometimes, mentally, the risk is too much.
So, he was right. I am Alice down the rabbit hole. I’m lost, caught between what I know, what I want and what I think I know. There’s too many tunnels to choose from, up is down and left is right and getting out of this bind that I find myself in wasn’t even something I contemplated. Did I enjoy the journey? Has my adventure been worth it? When I find my way out, I’ll let you know.